Accusations about the theft of donations made by the residents and the local authority to a pioneering scheme – launched on the Isle of Wight to help the homeless – have been quashed by the founder.
Over the past couple of weeks, many readers have been in touch with OnTheWight sharing details of an accounting audit of the Isle of Wight Bus Shelter charity, which claimed that nearly £13,000 had gone missing, with much of it having been paid it into another company set up by the charity’s founder.
Founder: “That was for me, for working”
The founder of the Bus Shelter, Kevin Newton, told Jon Cuthill from BBC1’s Inside Out Programme that £3,000 of the money is still sitting in a PayPal account and £10,000 (which the auditor referred to as ‘deliberate misappropriation’) was taken as his salary for the year he worked on the bus. He says that he worked so many hours that the salary equated to around £2.50 per hour.
However, the official paperwork for the charity does not reflect any agreement from the Trustees that he be paid this money.
Separate company now dissolved
The ‘unexplained transactions’ had been paid into a company called The Bus Shelter Global Ltd. In October last year, an application to dissolve that company was made to Companies House by Mr Newton.
An objection was lodged against this and the application to dissolve the company suspended in November.
However, as of Tuesday this week (20th February) the company has now been dissolved.
Manager: Project was “like a mad bull out of control”
As reported in previous articles, the management of the Bus Shelter changed last year and the charity now also has new Trustees. Karl Print, the new manager of the Bus Shelter, said,
“There was an excitement about the project and I think what was lost in that, was taking a very structured methodical approach to it.
“It was almost like a mad bull out of control.”
When he got involved with the project last year, Karl said he observed many of those volunteering to be struggling with their own mental health problems, something he refers to as “a dangerous concoction”.
In the hands of the Trustees
After Kevin disappeared “off the radar”, Karl said that he noticed discrepancies in the accounting.
Businesses told him they’d made donations to the charity, but they weren’t appearing in the accounts, so he put it all in the hands of the Trustees.
Founder: “Mental breakdown”
Kevin, who spearheaded the initiative and then took it across the country, with Bus Shelters being set up around the country, also told the BBC that after the Bus Shelter lost its home at Seaclose Park, he’d had a “mental breakdown” and is now suffering from depression and anxiety.
“It was a very, very hard job to do, but I’m glad I did it. Even though it has affected my health, the people who are being helped now in Weymouth, Milton Keynes and Ipswich – it wouldn’t have happened, if I hadn’t have done it.”
Homeless Reduction Act
Come April 2018 a change in the law (the Homeless Reduction Act) means the Isle of Wight council will have to help homeless people, no matter what their priority status is.
Jon Cuthill said,
“78% of people applying to the Isle of Wight council for help with homelessness in the past year have been denied.”
With that as one of the highest figures in the South, dealing with homelessness could become a significant problem for the council.
Contact with the founder
OnTheWight has attempted to contact to Kev Newton with a series of questions prior to publishing, but had not received a response.
You can see the programme on the BBC iPlayer until 14th March 2018.
Details of the accounts can be found below.